Posts Tagged ‘sovereign Lord’

I am fascinated with Oshea Davis’ take on the sovereignty of God and the issue of evil in one of the forums at Facebook. He was kind enough to synthesize his comments, which I later understood to be a portion of the discourse in the book ‘Divine Decrees’ based on the Sermons of Jonathan Edwards.  Davis is the editor of this book. 

To embark on a study on this topic, I took the liberty to start research on the same subject and arrived first to a lengthy and scholarly article at Monergism.com written by William G. T. Shedd.  A section in the afore-mentioned article is appended hereunder which, I believe, is vital in the understanding of the issue.  To read the full article, please follow this link. My prayer is to be enriched further on the glorious subject of the sovereignty of God. And through His Son and my Lord – Jesus Christ – am I utterly thankful that none of the minutest details of my life were ever out of His sovereign hands even before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-14)



Characteristics of the Divine Decree (excerpt from William G. T. Shedd’s article The Divine Decrees)

The following characteristics mark the divine decree:
1.      The divine decree is founded in wisdom. This is implied in saying that God’s purpose is “according to the counsel (boulēn) of his will” (Eph. 1:11). There is nothing irrational or capricious in God’s determination. There may be much in it that passes human comprehension and is inexplicable to the finite mind, because the divine decree covers infinite space and everlasting time; but it all springs out of infinite wisdom. The “counsel” of the divine mind does not mean any reception of knowledge ab extra, by observation or comparison or advisement with others; but it denotes God’s wise insight and knowledge, in the light of which he forms his determination. It is possible, also, that there is a reference in the language to the intercommunion and correspondence of the three persons in the Godhead: “The counsel of the Lord stands forever” (Ps. 33:11); “with him is wisdom and strength; he has counsel and understanding” (Job 12:13); “the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand” (Prov. 19:21); “he has done all things well” (Mark 7:37); “God saw everything that he had made, and behold it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).
2.      The divine decree is eternal: “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning” (Acts 15:18); “the kingdom was prepared from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34); “he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4); “God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation” (2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Cor. 2:7); “the Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8); Christ as a sacrifice “was foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Pet. 1:20). This characteristic has been defined in what has been said under attributes respecting the simultaneousness and successionlessness of the eternal, as distinguished from the gradations and sequences of the temporal.
3.      The divine decree is universal. It includes “whatsoever comes to pass,” be it physical or moral, good or evil: “He works all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:10–11); “known unto God are all his works from the beginning” (Acts 15:18; Prov. 16:33; Dan. 4:34–35; Matt. 10:29–30; Acts 17:26; Job 14:5; Isa. 46:10):
(a) The good actions of men: “Created unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10);
(b) the wicked actions of men: “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:23; 4:27–28; Ps. 76:10; Prov. 16:4);
(c) so-called accidental events: “The lot is cast into the lap, but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord” (Prov. 16:33; Gen. 45:8; 50:20); “a bone of him shall not be broken” (John 20:36; Ps. 34:20; Exod. 12:46; Num. 9:12);
(d) the means as well as the end: “God has chosen you to salvation, through sanctification (en hagiasmō) of the Spirit” (2 Thess. 2:13); “he has chosen us that we should be holy” (Eph. 1:4; 1 Pet. 1:2); “elect through sanctification of the Spirit” (Acts 27:24, 31):
The same divine purpose which determines any event determines that event as produced by its causes, promoted by its means, depending on its conditions, and followed by its results. Things do not come to pass in a state of isolation; neither were they predetermined so to come to pass. In other words, God’s purpose embraces the means along with the end, the cause along with the effect, the condition along with the result or issue suspended upon it; the order, relations, and dependences of all events, as no less essential to the divine plan than the events themselves. With reference to the salvation of the elect, the purpose of God is not only that they shall be saved, but that they shall believe, repent, and persevere in faith and holiness in order to salvation. —Crawford, Fatherhood of God, 426
(e) the time of every man’s death: “his days are determined” (Job 14:5); “the measure of my days” (Ps. 39:4); the Jews could not kill Christ “because his hour was not yet come” (John 7:30). It is objected that fifteen years were added to Hezekiah’s life after the prophet had said, “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live” (Isa. 38:1, 5). But this assertion of the prophet was not a statement of the divine decree, but of the nature of his disease, which was mortal had not God miraculously interposed.
4.      The divine decree is immutable. There is no defect in God in knowledge, power, and veracity. His decree cannot therefore be changed because of a mistake of ignorance or of inability to carry out his decree or of unfaithfulness to his purpose: “He is in one mind, and who shall turn him?” (Job 23:13); “my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isa. 46:10). The immutability of the divine decree is consistent with the liberty of man’s will: “God ordains whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature; nor is the liberty, or contingency, of second causes taken away, but rather established” (Westminster Confession 3.1). This is the doctrine of Christ. He asserts that his own crucifixion was a voluntary act of man and also decreed by God: “They have done unto Elijah whatsoever they pleased (hosa ēthelēsan): likewise shall the Son of Man suffer them” (Matt. 17:12); “the Son of Man goes as it was determined (hōrismenon), but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed” (Luke 22:22). In Acts 2:23 it is said that Christ was “delivered by the determinate counsel of God” and “by wicked hands was crucified and slain.”

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Foreword:  This is a new section on this blog entitled Question and Answers (QnA).  I will post from time-to-time questions from brothers and sisters that I am in regular communication with concerning biblical topics, and followed by my response. Firstly, the answers are not extensive. Second, anyone can put in his views on the topic via comments, whether one agrees or not, but I must insist that we ‘disagree agreeably’ and no ad hominems please. Third, the object is to stir us further into our study in the Word of God.  Hopefully, by God’s grace, the Holy Spirit will illuminate the Scriptures to us that we may behold the greatness and glory of our wonderful God through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.


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A brother who frequents Christianster website and joins in discussions of specific bible topics passed on this comment from pastor John MacArthur, followed by a question from one of the bloggers of the post concerning the comment. Some words are in Pilipino (national language of the Philippines) and I have placed the English translation in italics.

J MacArthur says!

Salvation is by the elect, predestined, purpose of God. Damnation is by the unbelief of men. Now you say, “How do you resolve that?” I don’t resolve that! I can’t resolve that. But, I know God is perfect and He resolves it perfectly and that’s the best we can do with it. So, what do we do? When we’re saved, who do we thank? God. And when men go to hell, who do we blame? Them. You say, “I don’t understand that.” That’s right. And neither do I. The implications are this: if I’ve been saved, I praise God, I rejoice, I thank him; and when I go to an unbeliever, I don’t say, “Are you elect?”–like Spurgeon said, pull up their shirt-tail and see if they have an “E” stamped on their back. I go to them and I say, “You’ll be damned by your unbelief” and I plead with them to “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” And I leave the resolution to God.

Question: Kuya (older brother) is this a right statement? Salvation is by the elect, predestined, purpose of God. Damnation is by the unbelief of men. Kasi may nag question sa post na eto (Because there is a question on this post)…. sabi nya (he said) is unbelief of men is out of sovereignty of God?

My Reply: Well, if the question is unbelief of men is out of the sovereignty of God? It’s a two-part question I suppose:

  1. Did God have a “control” over the entry of unbelief?  The answer is YES.
  2. Is God to blame? – NO. The answer is not based on His sovereignty alone but also on the wise counsel of the sovereign God. Because God is perfectly wise in all He does, therefore He cannot be blamed even if He is sovereign over men’s unbelief.

This is one of the many seeming paradoxes on the doctrine of God. I used the word ‘seeming’ because there are really no paradoxes in the Scriptures altogether. But they only seem paradoxes on this side of heaven as our sin-marred minds are finite.  

When Job said in chapter 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted,” it tells us of God’s sovereignty in all things at all times. But 42:3 tells us of our problem: “who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”

So, yes the bible teaches us that God is an absolute monarch (sovereign Lord) and yes, the bible teaches us that we are responsible for our damnation as well if we do not repent.  The farthest we can go based on Scripture is the fact that when Adam sinned, then we all sinned. The message of repentance and forgiveness in Jesus Christ is preached. We also know that unless God regenerates man, he will not believe Christ. If a particular man is sent to hell because of  his unbelief, and since we know that God alone can regenerate this man but He did not do so, we only have Paul’s answer in Romans on the question: ‘is God to be blamed?”…

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? – Romans 9:19-24

In the end, man can only blame himself  for his sin, never God; for to blame God is already the manifestation of man’s being lost in sin.

Hope this helps.

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